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What You Need to Know If You’ve Just Been Diagnosed With Borderline Personality Disorder

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So you’ve been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Take a deep breath.

How are you feeling?

It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, afraid, ashamed or anxious. Maybe the words “personality disorder” hit you like a brick wall. If you’re anything like me, you may actually feel relieved to put a label to the weight you’ve been carrying.

Hopefully, your healthcare provider relayed your BPD diagnosis with empathy and care. Maybe they discouraged you from Googling your diagnosis right away. It’s sound advice. But again, if you’re like me, you did it anyway.

Because BPD carries a surplus stigma based in misinformation and blanket stereotypes, you’re likely to come across words like “manipulative,” “attention-seeking,” “crazy” or “hopeless.”

Take a deep breath.

Common symptoms range from chronic emptiness, to suicidal ideation, to overwhelming urges to self-harm, and the inner turmoil associated with BPD is devastating and life-threatening. The emotional pain associated with BPD has been equated to the physical pain experienced by someone with third-degree burns covering 90 percent of their bodies.

The courage it would take anyone in your position to continue to face every new day is outstanding.

Mainstream representations of BPD would have you believe we are all inherently evil, violent or bad; not only are these stereotypes inaccurate, but they’re dangerous. In reality, millions of people live with symptoms of BPD, and the one thing they all have in common is that they live with painful, often debilitating symptoms. That’s it!

The hurt you feel is valid regardless of someone else’s lack of understanding.

Despite everything, you’ve taken the first step toward healing. (Although, if you’ve been hurting for some time, it may feel like step 283.)

There is hope, and there is a path to a calmer, more balanced and peaceful life.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), the recommended treatment for people with borderline personality disorder, includes consistently attending both group and individual talk therapy to develop skills to more effectively cope and navigate a myriad of symptoms. DBT is organized into four modules: distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness, each designed to address and replace destructive or unhelpful thought processes and behaviors.

Unfortunately, access to adequate, affordable therapy can be difficult, and there’s generally a wait list for DBT programs. However, in the meantime, there are a number of helpful DBT resources online.

Because everyone faces their own, unique obstacles, regardless of a shared diagnosis, I can’t predict your journey ahead, and neither can your therapist, family or friends. But I can tell you that, as you move forward, new skills will become easier to apply and unhealthy coping mechanisms will begin to lose their appeal. You might lose friends and make new ones. You will likely fall back into old habits. Sometimes you’ll want to quit, but then you keep going.

You’ll try new things and hate some of them. You may encounter setbacks and obstacles that feel insurmountable. (They’re not.) Sometimes you will feel alone and afraid, but other times you’ll be in awe of your own bravery and resilience. You’ll discover the power of self-compassion and vulnerability.

You will relapse. That’s OK.

You remember what you’ve lived through, you remember your strengths, and you keep showing up.

Seeking treatment and support isn’t easy, but neither is surviving every day in a society that fails to recognize your pain. Yet, here you are.

Recovery isn’t linear, it’s often chaotic, and no, it’s not fair. But it is possible, and the best part is that you don’t have to do it alone.

Stick with it, and you just might find recovery to be the most beautiful, empowering, worthwhile undertaking of your life.

Take a deep breath. Then keep going.

You’re worth it.

Photo by Annie Marek-Barta on Unsplash

Originally published: January 19, 2019
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